Many job seekers believe that online applications have rendered job fairs obsolete. They’re wrong. Job fairs are an excellent opportunity to network, do research, and connect with potential employers. Since most job seekers have given up on job fairs, you face less competition there than you would on an online job site. The key is to conduct yourself professionally, to be strategic, and not to expect too much. Here are some of the ways that job fairs can be a valuable tool in your job search strategy:
Make an impression in person. Job fairs provide the rare opportunity to make a personal connection with employers, which can put you miles ahead of your competition. Dress to impress and do some research on the companies that will be attending. With a little preparation, it is easy to stand out from the crowd.
Get valuable information. When you’re connecting with people, you never know when you’ll get a useful piece of information. You could get a valuable tip about the online application at a particular company, or you may even learn about a job lead. Keep your eyes and ears open and an opportunity might find you.
Discover new possibilities. When you look for a job online, you are basically just searching for stuff you know. You look at your target companies and search for your target positions. But what about all the opportunities that you’ve never considered? Job fairs expose you to new possibilities and allow you to expand your horizons. You just need to keep an open mind and be willing to try something new.
Meet other job seekers. We’ve all heard about the value of networking, but many of us fall into the trap of assuming that we should just network with employers. However, the truth is that a connection with another job seeker can be just as or even more valuable. Other job seekers can tell you about job leads, connect you to their network, and support you through the ups and downs of the job search process. Nobody can understand the challenges you are facing as much as someone who’s going through it too.
Like so many other things in life, job fairs are what you make it. If you take the time to prepare, dress professionally and work hard to build connections, you can get valuable leads. The savvy job seeker knows that no job search tool is obsolete; you just have to figure out how to use it strategically.
(Written by: Karen Bivand)